Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Main union in Nigeria to suspend strike over petrol subsidy

Nigeria's main labour union agreed after meeting with the government on Monday night to suspend a planned indefinite strike to protest the removal of a popular decades-old petrol subsidy, a signed resolution of the agreement showed.

The government had obtained a court injunction stopping Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) from embarking on the strike from June 7, after petrol prices nearly tripled following the subsidy removal last week. Trade Union Congress (TUC) was also cited although it had not yet called for a strike.

On taking office a week ago, President Bola Tinubu immediately scrapped the costly subsidy, which began in the 1970s, causing an uproar from unions.

In 2012, a wave of strikes ensued when Nigeria tried to introduce a similar measure, with authorities eventually reinstating some subsidies. Tinubu, then in the opposition, was among those who opposed ending the subsidies.

A meeting between government representatives and NLC and TUC leaders agreed on Monday that the NLC would "suspend the notice to strike forthwith to enable further consultations."

NLC's executive is expected to meet on Tuesday to approve the agreement with government.

The parties would continue discussions on the union demands, including the upgrade of state-owned refineries so they can produce petrol locally to keep prices low.

Another meeting would be held on June 19 to discuss how to implement any agreements.

TUC, in a statement on Monday, issued a raft of demands to the government, including a rise in the monthly minimum wage to 200,000 naira (433.79) from 30,000 naira with effect from this month and that the new wage should not be taxed.

Tinubu said last week Nigeria needed to review its minimum wage but did not say to what level.

By Felix Onuah, Reuters

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